Brian Weaver and the Snake Bite – Don’t pick it up!

Report by Brian Weaver

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve written anything.  Quite often it is because I don’t have enough photos of the past months.  I have been in Durban, I climbed in Umgeni.  I had a lot of fun there onsighting a 25 and a 27 as well a getting a 28 second go and 30 in a day in 4 tries.  Great weekend.

After that was the Roc Rally which I spent some time training for. I reworked beta for Godzilla and for Strata and Lab Rat. Dave was on Rodan and looking strong, he inspired me to get a new high point on it.
I racked up 3 sends at the Roc Rally, Lab Rat in 30 min, fell off of Godzilla a few times and finally got Strata the next day.  I managed to onsight Coach at the last possible minute.

It was all fun and games and I pulled out a second place in the difficulty comp just behind Andrew.  The party was epic.  It went well into the night.  The next day was going to be a write off but I sent Jack as a bonus.
Good times.
I was too tired to take draws off of Godzilla.  So I sent it first try next weekend.
Since then I’ve been at Chosspile working Anduril and Chossfather. Colin sorted out new beta for Anduril and he capitalized on it.  I didn’t manage till this past weekend. It was an empty victory seeing as it took so long to do a 29/30.

The fun started after that.  We drove through to Bergheim to camp and it was great till it started to hail and the Bronkenator was leaking.  Fun times.  We were just about to go to bed and I went to say hi to Frankie and co.  On my way back I came across a little black snake.  I thought I recognised it as a blind snake.  I took some pictures and then I picked it up.

It was totally chilled at first and I carried it a bit then it bit me twice.  I thought it was weird.  It didn’t hurt though so Yvette and I chatted about it for a while but when the pain started I asked Yvette to see if I could have been wrong.

It turns out I was wrong.  I was very wrong.

Stiletto Snake

The Stiletto Snake that bit me

Stiletto Snake bite

The hand that got bitten.

Yvette spoke to our friend Arno, one of the leading specialists of snakes in South Africa.  The snake turned out to be a Stiletto Snake as know as a Mole Viper or a Burrowing. Asp.  Oops.  Shit.  Hmmm what now?
Turns out I’m in for so extreme pain and swelling. Damn it. As I walk over to Jono to wake him up the words “we have an emergency.  I was bitten by a venomous snake” come out my mouth.  They sound stupid.  But they are accurate.  I wake up Andrew.  I start feeling really stupid because I know I have to tell them how I was bitten.  My bad.

They get me to lay down in the Bronkenator and as they take down the canvas and we got on the road.  I was starting to feel the pain big time.  My body was starting to shake.  And the pain was building.  The swelling in my hand was getting worse and my fingers could not move anymore.  I was starting to realize what a big mistake I had made.  We were halfway there and I was in so much pain, I was kicking and thrashing.  I was realizing more and more that I am an idiot.  Yvette and Arno told me and Andrew to make sure not to let the surgeons touch me.

We walk into the hospital and Andrew gets me straight to the back of casualty.  The doctor walks in and he is immediately worried about the swelling.  I immediately say that surgery is not an option, much to his irritation.  Doctors generally don’t like being told how to do their job.  But snake bites are not really a doctor’s speciality, they are Arno’s domain and I trust him a lot.  He’d seen many Stiletto snake bites and I was dead set on listening to him.  Cutting into the skin without true compartment syndrome causes irreparable damage and has little to no effect on the snake bite.

The sister put a drip up on my arm, gave me some shots and instantly I was feeling better.  There was a debate about whether to leave me over night for observation or take me home to Yvette.  I wasn’t being very helpful.  Eventually I was signed out RHT (refused hospital treatment).  The pain killer the doc gave me was meant to last 8 hours, it lasted about 30 more minutes.  Halfway to Hartbeespoort the pain was immense and I was really unhappy again.  Yvette was bringing me some tramacet from home to fight the pain but she was still 30 minutes away.

All I could do was grit and bear it.

Eventually we got to the total garage in Hartbeespoort and I crawled into Yvette’s arms and then into the car. The tramacet helped in about 15 minutes and then we got home. My whole arm was swollen and the pain got worse.

Sunday wasn’t good. Monday was a little better.  Tuesday showed marked improvement. Wednesday is today.  I feel better but I’m still in a lot of pain. I’m really sore but the skin on my hand is intact. I might go back to work tomorrow if the pain is under control.

Snake bite photo

My arm on the Monday morning

Snake bite photo

My (less swollen) arm on Wednesday morning

I would like to thank everyone who stood by my side on this one. Jono and Andrew for being there from my dumb moment till late at night and into the week with warm heart-felt messages.  Ebert for perking me up and making me smile. Colin, Dirk, Greg and Illona for checking in on me and keeping me encouraged.  To Yvette for holding on to me and keeping me sane.

Lastly, to Arno for helping make the identification and advising us in making the right treatment decisions.  Your expertise helped keep me sane and has inspired Yvette to present a paper to her hospital to help spread awareness.
Thank you all…

Brian is sponsored by Edelrid, Mad Rock and Omega Pacific.

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11 Responses to Brian Weaver and the Snake Bite – Don’t pick it up!

  1. Paul Oct 25, 2012 at 4:29 pm #

    Brian, and i thought you were bright dude….
    What some people will do for attention !!

  2. Justin Oct 25, 2012 at 5:03 pm #

    Hectic Brian!
    Lucky to have Arno on hand (so to speak) to avoid any surgery being done! What you going to call your next route?

  3. Gary Oct 26, 2012 at 8:11 am #

    Yeah was bitten by one too, also mistook it for another snake.

    It took a few months to get over the whole thing, my hand, wrist and elbow had a uncomfortable stiffness to it, but it’s better now.( Not saying it will happen to you)

    You’re lucky going to the hospital, i only took a myprodol for the pain, my arm also swelled like a mother!


  4. Grant Nov 8, 2012 at 11:08 am #

    Sometimes people have to take a punch so that others can see what NOT to do. It takes courage to share these mistakes.

    Deaths are rare but have been recorded and you could have lost your fingers – not great for climbing.

    The trick is never to touch a snake unless you are 100% sure that you know what it is.

    Has the pain subsided yet? Wishing you all the best and a full, speedy recovery!!

  5. Brian Weaver Nov 8, 2012 at 11:33 am #

    I’m pretty much. I was back to climbing 32 this past weekend. The epidermis layer of skin sloughed off this Sunday from the friction of the rope and belaying. There is still tenderness if I bump it hard but other than that it’s 100%. I’m very lucky and very happy 🙂

  6. Grant Nov 9, 2012 at 9:57 am #

    Skin shedding off your finger? That reminds me of a story involving a photographer who got bitten by a spider 🙂

    Good to hear that you’re OK. Next time you see a snake, rather just leave it at the pictures 🙂

    You can even post pics for identification here if you are not sure what it is.

  7. Derek Marshall Nov 25, 2012 at 4:04 pm #

    Entertaining read, really enjoyed it… thanks Brian.

    The unfortunate part of the story is that this poor snake wasted it’s venom, intended hunting(survival) fending off your molestation.

    If you love snakes the best thing you can do is leave them aloan.

    I hate them.

  8. Jules Jan 3, 2013 at 11:00 am #

    Good read. My son just got bit on hand by a Stilletto snake. Also mis ID’d it. Fortunatly we had a positive id quickly. Main point is the single puncture mark as fangs come out side of mouth. Guys at nelspruit mediclinic are awesm. They know the snake and all its issues. Rule of thumb is dont pick it up unless you are prepared to marry it.

  9. Rob Sep 5, 2013 at 11:55 pm #

    UK based here, Eastbourne, East Sussex. Nothing venomous locally (except the common adder, the british species of which isnt particularly venomous at all) – I was under the impression the stiletto snake bite was amongst the most painful of all snake bites. Beyond excruciating, like sticking your hand into an open fire and keeping it there. You were lucky not to lose any fingers, too!

  10. Sharon Aurets Oct 6, 2014 at 8:05 pm #

    I was bitten by one of these, and then my 3 year old son was also bitten a year later. Not fun. Apparently it’s the most common of all snake bites in South Africa? Excrutiating pain, necrosis etc. No doctors or hospitals would help my son. I had to slice his finger open to relieve the swelling as the blood supply to his finger was cut off. It takes many weeks to heal.

  11. Nthabiseng Jan 6, 2016 at 9:44 am #

    Thank you so much for you story, it gave me hope after my daughter was bit by stiletto snake last week.

    As soon as the hospital snake expert told us what snake it was (from the pics we took of it) I looked it up and it was YOUR story and your account of the days following that gave me hope. I knew she’d be okay.

    Thank you!

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